Quick Links

Redskins Depth Chart: Injuries continue to plague elite talent on offensive line, but will it stop?

Redskins Depth Chart: Injuries continue to plague elite talent on offensive line, but will it stop?

Overall, the Redskins lack blue-chip players, evidenced by the more than two decades since the team last landed an NFL All-Pro selection. 

One area where Washington does have elite talent, and could break their All-Pro drought, would be on the offensive line. 

That conversation starts with left tackle Trent Williams. Unquestionably the most athletic blindside protector in the league, Williams has made seven straight Pro Bowls and combines strength, grace and precise footwork to play one of football’s most important positions at a very high level. 

Beyond Williams, right guard Brandon Scherff mauls his opponents and has much more speed and agility than he gets credit. Redskins coach Jay Gruden labeled Scherff the best pulling guard in the NFL, and that case is easy to make. 

Without getting to the other three offensive line spots- with center manned dutifully by Chase Roullier and right tackle by Morgan Moses - Williams and Scherff are the headliners. 

There are other headlines though, and they aren’t the positive kind. 

The Redskins offensive line has sustained an outrageous amount of injuries the last two seasons. No team in the league has been forced to use more guard combinations, and both Williams and Scherff have missed significant time. 

Roullier was the only offensive player to take every snap last season, and while Moses gutted through a number of ailments, he was penalized more than any other tackle in the league. 

And there’s the left guard situation.

Washington hasn’t truly addressed that spot in years, instead trotting out Shawn Lauvao before his inevitable injury in the first half of the season. Last month, the Redskins finally attempted to get a handle on the spot by drafting Indiana guard Wes Martin in the fourth round and Alabama center/guard Ross Pierschbacher in the fifth. 

Inside the building, Redskins officials hope Martin can start at left guard right away. He’s very strong for a rookie and should be a capable run blocker. His pass blocking will be something to watch. 

The team also signed Ereck Flowers this offseason. A first-round pick of the Giants in 2015, Flowers was awful in New York and was cut midway through last season. Jacksonville picked him up and he played decent with the Jaguars to finish the year. 

There was talk that Flowers could push for the left guard spot, and he might. But he also might serve as depth at tackle, especially considering the Redskins lost Ty Nsekhe to the Bills in free agency. 

For parts of three seasons, Nsekhe has been a valuable backup in Washington, filling in for both Williams and Moses and occasionally at the guard spot. With Nsekhe gone, second-year pro Geron Christian will need to show much more than he did as a rookie, but his development will be hampered as he returns from a major knee injury suffered last year. This offseason, the team also agreed to terms with Tony Bergstrom, a depth player with some versatility, who also dealt with his own injury struggles.

The real ceiling of the Redskins offensive line will be determined by what players can stay healthy. That just hasn’t happened in Washington for the last two seasons, and in turn, it has submarined promising seasons. 

Fix the injuries, and offensively, the product should be significantly better; run the ball more effectively, use play action more effectively, throw the ball more effectively. 

As the reality of rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins starting for the Redskins this fall becomes more apparent, it should also become more obvious how important a healthy offensive line will be to his success. And it’s just too early to know if that will be the case. 

When everyone is healthy, the ‘Skins have a top five offensive line in the NFL. 

But when will everyone be healthy? The last few years that doesn’t last long.


Quick Links

One analyst sees Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice having to split carries as a 'potential problem'

One analyst sees Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice having to split carries as a 'potential problem'

In theory, Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice working out of the same backfield should be an enormous boost for the Redskins this season.

In theory, Peterson's presence should allow Guice to slowly ease his way into the NFL during Washington's early contests, and in theory, Guice's availability should help Peterson stay fresher for 16 games since he won't have to be the one handling every carry.

But NBC Sports and Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio doesn't exactly see the Redkins' running back situation playing out so peacefully. The NFL isn't a third-grade classroom; sharing isn't always caring.

"This is going to be a potential problem for the team because Adrian Peterson is not accustomed to giving up touches," Florio recently told NBC Sports Washington.

"When he was in New Orleans for not very long in 2017, he realized he wasn't getting the ball the way that he did in Minnesota," he continued. "He wanted the ball, he ended up being traded to Arizona where they had an injury need that made him the guy. Last year an injury need in Washington made him the guy."

Of the team's 339 rushing attempts by non-quarterbacks in 2018, Peterson was responsible for 251 of them. That means he was shouldered with 74-percent of the overall workload. 

During mandatory minicamp in early June, position coach Randy Jordan laid out his preferred ratio for Peterson and Guice now that they're together. What he wants sounds a lot more even than how last season's breakdown ended up looking.

“They are both different, but they are both explosive,” he said. “The thing is ideally you would like to see a 50/50, 60/40 [split]." 

Florio, however, is wary of how that could upset the future Hall of Famer.

"He wants to be the guy," Florio said. "Derrius Guice is going to — if he plays like he did before we saw that ACL tear last year — he's going to potentially eat into those touches and Adrian Peterson will not be happy about it and he will not be bashful about saying so."

While at the Ashburn podium following an offseason practice, Jay Gruden admitted that Peterson seems like a player who improves as his usage increases, but he ultimately explained he doesn't believe fewer carries will hurt Peterson. And you'd love to believe him.

Many offenses have thrived using multiple options on the ground, and it's an approach you're seeing more and more in pro football. Peterson and Guice can attack defenses in different ways, they have different strengths and they could each ease the burden on one another along with Chris Thompson, who you can't forget about.

Yet these are also two threats who are used to being the primary piece of their units. They're used to 20-plus touches and finding their rhythm at their own pace. So while Gruden, his staff and Redskins fans are focusing on the positive possibilities of a Peterson-Guice duo, Florio is less bullish.

"The more touches Guice gets, the more frustrated Peterson will be, because he knows he's only got so many years left to play football," Florio said. "He wants to get as many carries, as many yards as possible as he climbs higher and higher up the all-time rushing list. That's going to be a challenge for the team in 2019."


Quick Links

Brian Mitchell says if Dwayne Haskins 'proves he's the best, he goes on the football field'

Brian Mitchell says if Dwayne Haskins 'proves he's the best, he goes on the football field'

Imagine a scenario in which three quarterbacks are set to battle it out for the starting spot. In the situations leading up to the Week 1 game, one quarterback has consistently played well while the other two have faltered at times. You'd obviously go with the guy who's looked the best, right?

But what if you knew the added information that the quarterback shining is a rookie who has no regular-season experience and only a few months of NFL practices under his belt, while the other two are veterans, one is familiar with the offensive system and the other has proven to be successful at points in his career. Would the labels impact your decision?

Obviously, this oddly specific scenario alludes to the quarterback competition going on with the Redskins. If rookie Dwayne Haskins performs the best leading up to the season, should he be given the nod over veterans Case Keenum and Colt McCoy despite their advantage in experience? According to NBC Sports Washington's Brian Mitchell, that's exactly how it should go.

"If Dwayne Haskins seems to show you that he's the best quarterback out there, why not play him," Mitchell said. "I don't think it's a situation where you have to play the veterans before him. If he is the best quarterback in training camp, he goes out in preseason and proves that he's the best, he goes on the football field."

For Mitchell, the decision on who is the starting quarterback doesn't revolve around experience or things of the past. All that matters is what is going on in the moment. If Dwayne Haskins sticks out through July and August, Mitchell believes he deserves the opportunity to be the guy for Washington. Rookie or veteran, it's about who's playing the best.

This way of choosing is also ideal to the former Redskin because it allows for Haskins progression and emergence to come naturally. By determining if he's ready or not solely on what is seen out of him, there's no risk of pushing him out there before he's ready or holding him back for longer than needed, according to Mitchell.

"I look at Dwayne Haskins in this way: You don't have to rush him, you don't have to truly patient," Mitchell said. "You allow him to go through the process."

Much like JP Finlay, Mitchell believes that Haskins was selected at No. 15 for a reason. Even if an "R" may show up next to his name this season, that shouldn't keep him off the field. If he looks ready, then Mitchell believes he should get the nod as early as Week 1.